The following is a short story about a brief period of life, which existed through the eyes and illustrated mind of a young man, high, in the figurative sense or perhaps this high was more literal in the metaphoric sense of being, “Under the influence,” as they say. The story you are about to read is all true —or at least it is as true as my recollection can portray after the incident.
I was somewhere around my second time in 9th grade. This was not my first adventure with the long and wild trips that come with hallucinogens. I was red-faced and drooling, smiling the kind of smile that comes when mentally insane and my watery eyes and over-sized pupils were wide-opened like the madman’s you would find on a locked ward. My long hair was disheveled, unkempt, and clumped, which gave an almost greasy or sweaty. The trip I took was too long and too mood altering for me to consider a shower. Plus, my condition was too obvious to walk around the house during morning hours around my parents. Instead of this, I timed my exit perfectly and waited for my mother and father to leave for work before making my way downstairs.
In previous night, I was already on the runway for takeoff (so to speak) and with no sleep, and with colorful trails blurring my vision; with imaginary sounds chiming in my ears, and with the impending classroom and the uncomfortable social schedule which of course, I wanted to avoid; I decided to re-up on my dosage while three-quarters of the way thru; hence, my far-gone, way-out appearance, and hence my state of mind; hence, my poor ability to make a clear decision or perhaps speak clearly, and hence my delayed arrival at school; I was tainted by several doses of mescaline and two stamps of blotter acid, plus a few pills I found in the medicine cabinet.
It was a midweek day of a midweek, teenage, uncomfortable life. I could not and did not want to face the day. As well, I could not and did not want to go to school or interact with the same feelings of social awkwardness or anxiety.
I was tired of the image I used to hide behind and tired of the back-and-forth bantering of insults that went on between me and my so-called friends.
I was tired of my surroundings and tired of the constant weight of energy behind every decision of which hallway to walk down, which teacher would ride me, or what kid would make me feel afraid or need to defend myself. Therefore, in the true spirit of fear and rebellion; since I could not be comfortable in my own skin or the best in the classroom, I fully and wholeheartedly decided that I would be the best at being the worst.
In fairness, much of this trip is too distorted in a clear sense. I cannot say when or what triggered me to make this decision to fully explore my own personal destruction, —and often times with LSD trips, I usually wanted reality to set in. But on this night, however, and on the night before one of my last few days in the regular public school system; I decided that I would prove my dedication and perfect my sabotage to the best of my ability.
I knew there was an end coming soon. However, I was unable to say what the end would be. I knew my time at school as painful and straining for me, a nervous young boy, small as ever and both physically and mentally weak. In my mind, I suppose all I had was this made-up image of a crazed teenager, which I pretended to be. And yes, in my case, my drug use was reactionary. In my case, my drug use was a symptom of an entire slew of mentally strenuous disorders and misunderstandings.
I was tired of feeling bullied and picked on. I was tired of feeling small and tired of feeling weak and stupid and uncomfortable in the classroom.
I was tired of the mortifying interactions with angry teachers, snarling and mad, screaming and yelling at me because I was unable to grasp the study material, which is why I acted out and responded the way I did.
On this day, however, it was a day towards the warmer part of the school year. We were passed the halfway mark and soon enough, the school year would come to a close; however, the summer months could not come soon enough.
The morning went by like a blur. I recall the hallways between periods and I have a clear recollection of walking down the center of the crowded hallway with loud students walking similarly like the flow of traffic on a highway. The kids on the right were walking away from me and the kids on the left were walking towards me. On the other hand, I walked straight down the middle of the corridor, tranced and dazed by the psychedelic phenomena. I recall walking clear down towards the other end of the hall. And it was then that I realized I passed my classroom.
I am unsure why I was never pulled out of class or taken to the nurse (or sent to the hospital) or why none of my teachers took the time to notice that I was clearly in a poor state of mind.
It was impossible for me to hide my crazed hysterics or speak in clear, understandable sentences. But as the day progressed; I was still high, but the high became slightly more manageable.
Except for homeroom, I am not sure if I went to any of my classes. I have a memory of hiding behind the curtains upon a stage in the auditorium for a while. Perhaps, I was there for one period, one hour, or it could have been one minute. truth is I am not sure; however, I do remember sitting in the bottom section of a podium that was backstage, curled with my knees to my chest —my head ducked down slightly beneath a shelf, and my back toward the inside right hand corner of the wooden, box-like podium.
Perhaps, I waited there until I could function a bit more. I suppose I waited until the temporary effects of self-induced, schizophrenia, were at least a bit more manageable.
There was a scrawny, odd looking teacher whose name I will change out of respect for anonymity. For this, I will call this man Mr. Rowlings. He was an uncomfortable man. He was uncomfortable and nervous in the classrooms. We called him a nerd. I called him Waldo on several occasions because Rowlings looked like the nerdy character named Waldo in a music video. And often, I would say a quote from this video when seeing Rowlings in the hallways. I would tell him, “Sit down, Waldo!” And Rowlings would become terribly angry, which of course, was fine with me because that was my goal.
A day prior to this event, Rowlings and I had an incident in a classroom in which, Rowlings felt frightened and threatened by me. As a result, the odd-looking, nervous, and uncomfortable teacher unexpectedly threw me to the floor. As a result, I felt humiliated.
Rowlings was not a real teacher in our school. He was used as a substitute. He was young and perhaps one of the most bullied people I had ever met. Even more bullied than myself, I suppose what I hated most about Rowlings is the same as what I related most because in truth, Rowlings embodied the personal and social fears, which I felt on a daily basis. He was odd-looking and uncool, at best. And to have this man who was seemingly timid, frightened, weak as ever, and picked on by nearly everyone, effortlessly toss me on the floor and humiliate me —I knew I would have to redeem myself.
On the day of my meltdown, I walked into a social studies class —or at least, I think it was social studies. And of all people sitting behind the teacher’s desk; it was Rowlings that drew the shorter straw and had to substitute for my class.
Fueled with a taste for revenge and high as possible, I immediately went into my tirade. I mercilessly tortured this man. I interrupted class several times and refused to sit down. For some reason, and I cannot recall why; there was a flower sale at school that day and kids (mostly girls) bought flowers to bring home. And since none of the girls wanted to leave these flowers in their lockers, those who purchased the flowers brought them to class in their little flower pots to sit on top of their desks.
After being told to sit down and after being told to leave the classroom several times; I refused each time, and showered Rowlings with a slew of insults and violent threats. This man was scared. I threatened to kill him. I threatened to burn his house down and mentioned the word, “Satan,” several times. And me, longhaired and usually wearing a shirt with either skulls or some band’s name regarding heavy metal or death metal; I was a frightening source to Rowlings.
I am not sure why, but I began to tell the class that this was my class now. I told Rowlings to leave. I shouted at him to get out and “LEAVE MY CLASSROOM NOW!” I walked around and began eating the flowers that were sitting on top of the desks of different female students and instructing the class to curse and say, “Fuck you,” to the teacher.
I kicked a desk at at Rowlings and threw one into the teacher’s desk where Rowlings sat.
I threatened him with everything I had and at the close of the bell —a student who I will name as Matt pulled me to the said. “You better get out of here,” he told me. Which I did without haste, and if I remember correctly, I went somewhere down the road and sat on someone’s front lawn, picking at the different blades of grass and talked to myself for a few hours.
Yes, this is a story about a youthful tragedy. Had I owned any weapons, I would have used them on this day. I recall planning my revenge on several occasions. I planned to light the school on fire, which I tried to without any success. I planned to destroy the local bowling alley because I was beat up there once. Truth is I did plan on killing. No differently than the likes of any school shooting; perhaps the only reason my plans never came to light is because I lacked the resource of things such as the internet. Back in my day we didn’t know what the internet was. As for “The Web . . .” the only web I knew about was a spider’s web. The news never reported about bullying. I never knew there were others like me, pissed off, and hated.
I am not sure what would have stopped me, had I had the chance to destroy or pull of my tricks for revenge; however, I do know that I always felt misunderstood and alone. I know that I felt hopeless all the time. And as the saying goes, “When you feel like you have nothing—then you have nothing left to lose,” which accurately explains exactly how I felt. No, this was not a mature mind whatsoever. No, this was my mind. I was frightened and angry and lost. I was misdiagnosed and undiagnosed. I had learning disabilities and deep secrets that burned me from the inside out. In truth, all I wanted was to just feel okay. Plan and simple, I just wished I could have felt as if I were a part of something. Instead, I felt unlike, unwanted, and certainly unremarkable. After a while, the pain turned inward and with the help of chemical intoxication —I was able to pull off one of my tricks.
Today, I am presenting to a county about a wellness curriculum in schools. It is funny how back when I was supposed to go, I never wanted to be in class. And here I am, looking to get back into schools and try to find the kids who were exactly like me.
Someone asked if I still think my stories relate to the stories kids have today. I can say this; when I go to schools and speak about my story —instead of discussing my behaviors and actions to appeal to the crowd or appear cool or like a “Bad ass,” I tell them honestly and openly about my fears and my feelings. I tell them about the pains and the personal secrets which I would have never dared to tell anybody when I was there age.
Getting back to the question of whether I think the kids today relate to my stories from back then—
I know they do because when I speak in crowded rooms or even in small classes, I often notice a sea of nodding heads from a large number of students that can understand and relate.
I think as a parent and as a member of my community; and as a member of my sober, recovering community, and a person with a heart who wouldn’t wish my past and pain on anyone; it is my hope that I can reach these kids before it gets to the point of personal or violent explosion.
Put simply, I want to help
This is why I do what I do